Looking for a game to pass the time while also engaging the ‘ole brain? Puzzle games are a great option that provide both entertainment and a genuine mental challenge. And by mental challenge, I also mean intense frustration.
From classics like Sudoku to escape room-style puzzles, physics games to there’s plenty to choose from. In fact, there are thousands of games to choose from. If you’d rather focus on solving actual puzzles than searching for the right game, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve always got a few of these sort of games installed on my phone, just waiting for an idle moment so I can fire them up and try to get past that one frustrating section that’s been bugging me for the last few weeks.
Some of them are complex and thought-provoking, some are meant to be a quick hit where a level only lasts a few seconds, but they’ve all stood the test of time, staying on my phone while many others have come and gone.
Based on their “fun factor”, level of difficulty, value, and functionality, these are my picks for the best iPhone puzzle games worth downloading in 2024.
If you ever needed a better example of a simple idea executed perfectly, look no further than Okay? The concept couldn’t be simpler, and neither could the graphics, and yet somehow this game has managed to make many hours of my life simply up and vanish.
The goal of each level is to use a ball to clear all of the white shapes on the screen, before the ball flies off the screen. All you need to do is swipe a finger to choose where the ball starts and which direction you want it to go. That’s it. As usual, the devil is in the detail.
The white shapes disappear when they’re touched; some of them deflect the ball away when it hits, others let it pass through. Black shapes stay where they are. The size, number, and layout of the black and white shapes changes each level, of course, so just when you finally figure out one layout, there’s a completely different one laying in wait.
If it all gets too much, you can watch an ad for a hint: other than that, there are no ads in the game. Instead, the developer gently asks for a few dollars if you like it. And like it I definitely do.
Magic Cube Puzzle 3D
Magic Cube Puzzle 3D is a Rubik’s cube-style app that is thoroughly addictive. Unlike an actual Rubik’s cube, however, the game is beginner-friendly. You can customize any puzzle to be as small as 2×2, so you can get started at an easy difficulty level. As you progress, you can work your way up to a whopping 20×20.
You’re not restricted to just cube-based puzzles, either. The app also has pyramid and dodecahedron style puzzles to solve, again, each customizable from 2×2 to 20×20. The app’s 3D graphics are simple but realistic. It’s free to download, but ad-supported. You can remove the ads for just 99c.
If you look back nostalgically at those endless hours spent fumbling with a colored plastic cube during your childhood, this is the puzzle game for you.
The Room: Old Sins
The Room: Old Sins is the fourth edition of the popular The Room game series. The series has won countless awards and accolades over the years, and has one of the highest average review scores of any series on the App Store. I’ve played each version as it’s come out, and this is the best of the lot.
A puzzling, mysterious, and downright spooky game at times, Old Sins takes you through a mysterious story. An engineer and his wife have disappeared, and the trail leads to the attic of their own home. That’s where the fun begins, as you explore an immersive environment with an incredible level of detail.
The mechanics are similar to an escape room: explore your surroundings, discover clues, and unlock the next environment. But the game’s level of detail, combined with a haunting soundtrack, give it perhaps the most realistic feel of any mobile game I’ve tried. It’s easily one of the best iPhone puzzle games out there.
Old Sins costs $4.99 — and is worth far more, in my opinion!
Blackbox is a remarkable piece of work that you really have to put some brain power into to understand. Put simply, it’s definitely not your typical puzzle game.
This app makes you rethink what your phone can do, and even what your phone is. There’s no clicking, tapping, or swiping. Instead, Blackbox forces you to think outside the box — and beyond the screen.
As the developer says, “to crack Blackbox’s puzzles you’ll need to find solitude and stillness, climb mountains, call on friends, [and] get in tune with the cosmos”. Those aren’t virtual mountains he’s talking about, either.
Blackbox has a solo game mode as well as a co-op mode with friends. It’s free to play with various in-app purchases available, including hints, new puzzle packs, and more. Under active development and full of surprises, all I can say is download it: you won’t regret it.
Sudoku.com – Sudoku Puzzle
For fans of the classic math puzzle Sudoku like me, grabbing this app is a no-brainer. It lets me play classic Sudoku at four different difficulty levels, and track a whole bunch of stats about my gameplay which (at least in theory) helps me improve over time.
Beyond the basics of Sudoku fun, the game also has a few bonus features. Customizable themes let you tweak the visual appearance of the boards to your liking. Hints and notes help you out when you’re stuck, while daily challenges and seasonal events keep things spicy (and addictive!)
This app is free and ad-supported. You can remove the ads for a one-time cost of $4.99 if they start to annoy you, but I haven’t found them too bad as yet.
Monument Valley and its sequel Monument Valley 2 are two of the best iPhone puzzle games of all time. That’s not just my opinion: both games have won several prestigious awards, including Apple Game of the Year.
Both are great games, but I suggest newcomers start with the OG Monument Valley. It’s the one that got me well and truly hooked on the series, the beautiful, whimsical graphics and sparse soundtrack unlike anything I’d played on mobile before.
The plot is similarly sparse and barely explained: you’re helping a young princess navigate a whimsical world filled with physics-defying architecture and impossible geometry.
The details of “why” don’t matter, though: it’s all about uncovering hidden paths, overcoming optical illusions, and navigating a strange world filled with beautiful sights and sounds, with simple controls that you’ll pick up in seconds.
Monument Valley costs $3.99 for full game access. There’s also an optional expansion pack with eight additional chapters, for $1.99.
Maze Machina is an unusual game that’s half puzzler, half turn-based combat game. You play as a tiny hero trapped inside an ever-changing labyrinth controlled by an evil Automatron, and need to use the weapons, power-ups, and tricks that the labyrinth offers you in order to escape.
This is a thoroughly engaging game that I’ve found equally good for getting lost in for hours, or casually playing for a few minutes between commitments. Games last just 5-10 minutes on average, and there are five unique modes to explore. It’s simple enough to pick up the gameplay, but definitely difficult to master!
Maze Machina is free to play to begin with, and costs $1.99 to unlock the full game and remove ads. The mix of puzzle and combat really ticks a lot of boxes for me, so I was more than happy to pay the money!
Laser Overload is a simple yet endlessly playable puzzle game where you connect energy sources to batteries, recharging the system and keeping the grid functioning.
The game is simple to understand and easy to play, yet difficult to master. With more than 300 levels to explore, this one has kept me busy for a very long time It doesn’t need Wi-Fi or a cellular connection either, so it’s a good mobile game to play offline: I’ve battled through its later levels on more than one long-haul flight.
Laser Overload is free and ad-supported. You can remove ads for a one-time fee of $1.99 (which you may want to do, since they’re a bit intrusive), and if you’re struggling with later levels, you can buy coin packs to help speed up your progress.
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green is a simple logic puzzle game for iPhones that asks one simple task of gamers: Turn the screen green on each of 50 levels.
What sounds like a simple premise gets more and more challenging with each level. Puzzles are logic-driven, and each unique level has its own twist. If you’re really struggling, hints become available once you’ve been staring confusedly at your screen for long enough.
The developer has clearly been on a roll with color-based names for his products: green comes on the back of previous games yellow, red, black, and blue. Free to play, there’s an optional $1.99 unlock that removes advertisements.
In case you’re wondering, no, I have not managed to get all 50 yet. And that’s not for a lack of trying!
Main image via McLittle Stock/Shutterstock.com, other images via respective developers